CAPE CANAVERAL Air Force Station, Fla., April 20, 2006 - An Atlas V launcher successfully carried the ASTRA 1KR satellite into orbit today, on the third mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS).
The 19-story Atlas V-411 vehicle lifted off today from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 41 at 4:27 p.m. EDT (20:47 GMT). After a flight of 1 hour, 48 minutes, the launcher's Centaur upper stage released the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) built both the satellite, an A2100 model, and the Atlas V launcher.
Today's mission was for SES ASTRA of Luxembourg, a longtime ILS customer. ILS is a Lockheed Martin joint venture based in McLean, Va. ILS markets commercial launch missions on the Atlas rocket and on the Russian-built Proton vehicle to satellite operators worldwide. SES was ILSï¿½ first Proton customer, with ASTRA 1F in April 1996, and this was its first launch using Atlas.
"This was an especially important mission for ILS and our customer, SES ASTRA," said ILS President Mark Albrecht. "It was our 100th launch, and after 10 years of launching SES ASTRA satellites, we are delighted to have an opportunity to introduce this valued customer to the excellence of Atlas. We now have achieved 100 percent reliability on Atlas vehicles over 79 flights since mid-1993, launching both government and commercial payloads."
"We are very proud and satisfied that the ASTRA 1KR mission has been a success," said Ferdinand Kayser, president and CEO of SES ASTRA. "ASTRA 1KR will benefit our customers, further strengthen our unique inter-satellite backup scheme and provide important replacement capacity for our ASTRA 1B and ASTRA 1C satellites. The success of the ASTRA 1KR mission is a milestone in our company history and shows that we have strengthened the fruitful cooperation with our launch partners, Lockheed Martin and International Launch Services."
While this is the first ASTRA satellite to use an Atlas vehicle, SES ASTRA has used ILS Proton vehicles for six launches. In addition, 10 satellites for SES AMERICOMï¿½s fleet have used a mix of Atlas and Proton vehicles. An SES affiliate, AsiaSat, also has used both vehicles, and the launch for another affiliate, SES SIRIUS AB, was awarded to Proton in 2005.
ILS is the global leader in launch services, offering the industry's two best systems: Atlas and Proton. These vehicles have consistently demonstrated the reliability and flexibility that have made them preferred choice among satellite operators worldwide. ILS was formed in 1995, and is based in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2005 sales of $37.2 billion.
The ASTRA satellite system is the leading direct-to-home (DTH) satellite system in Europe, delivering services to some 107 million direct-to-home and cable households. The ASTRA satellite fleet currently comprises 13 satellites, transmitting in excess of 1,600 analog and digital television and radio channels as well as multimedia and Internet services. ASTRAï¿½s two prime orbital positions for DTH services are 19.2 degrees East and 28.2 degrees East. Professional services such as direct-to cable (DTC), satellite newsgathering (SNG) and occasional use are offered from the orbital position of 23.5 degrees East.
SES ASTRA is an SES GLOBAL company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG). SES GLOBAL wholly owns three market-leading satellite operators, SES ASTRA in Europe, SES AMERICOM in the United States and New Skies Satellites in the rest of the world. The company also holds strategic participations in AsiaSat in Asia, Star One in Latin America and SES Sirius in Europe. Americom Government Services provides network solutions and bandwidth to the U.S. government and its contractors. SES GLOBAL provides outstanding satellite communications solutions via a fleet of 43 satellites across the globe.